A new National Geographic program looks into a sunken boat in Norway that the Nazis used to transport barrels of heavy water for their secret nuclear weapons program.
The 170-foot ferry SF Hydro was blown up by Norwegian resistance fighters in 1944 on Winston Churchill’s orders.
Scientists working with the program “Drain the Oceans” used advanced sonar technology to find out what’s inside the drowned ship.
The team discovered at least 18 barrels of heavy water — a key ingredient in making nuclear weapons — on board the sunken ferry at the bottom of Lake Tinn, 100 miles outside Oslo.
Historians credit the sinking of the Hydro for effectively ending the Nazis’ nuclear weapons program.
“After the war, those involved in the German nuclear program said that the loss of the heavy water was absolutely decisive,” naval historian Professor Eric Grove told the Telegraph on Saturday. “It stopped their reactor program in its tracks.”
The National Geographic team believes the remains of more barrels of heavy water are strewn near the wreckage.
Nazi Germany launched its nuclear program in 1939. After it invaded Norway in 1940, it took direct control of a heavy water plant in Vermork.
The allies ordered the plant destroyed to prevent the Nazis from acquiring heavy water and developing nuclear weapons.
The allies and Norwegian resistance forces launched a series of operations to destroy the plant to help thwart Hitler’s nuclear ambitions. A series of allied bombings managed to destroy the plant in 1943, but the Nazis had already removed some barrels of heavy water from the site and begun transporting them to Germany.
In 1944, on Churchill’s orders, Norwegian Resistance fighters slipped aboard the Hydro and planted explosives timed to go off the following day when the ferry was sailing over the deepest part of Lake Tinn.
Drain the Ocean debuted in the US in May, and is set to be released internationally next month.